According to an ASTV-Manager report on 25 March, Rosana Tositrakul, a Bangkok Senator, said that despite their claims of non-violence, the red shirts’ practices have been threatening. She branded the red shirts’ activities with her own term, ‘uncivil intimidation’
The throwing of faeces into the residence of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the splashing of blood were threatening acts and a violation of individual rights, because the PM’s house was not built with the people’s taxes. The red shirts had no right to have done this, she said.
Rosana did not see the red shirts’ protests as non-violent. She mentioned an incident when the red shirts beat up a couple who were said to have refused to accept their campaign stickers calling for a house dissolution.
She believed that the people were confused and felt intimidated, and they dared not say anything for fear of persecution. She branded the red shirts’ actions as ‘uncivil intimdation’, as opposed to the PAD claim that their actions were ‘civil disobedience’.
The red shirts claimed to use non-violence, but they had scary underground tactics such as firing war weapons, she said.
She mentioned the incident of the Iraqi man who threw a shoe at the US President George W. Bush, for which he had to serve a 3-year jail term. But the person who threw excrement into Abhisit’s house was jailed for only 5 days. That means it costs very little to do wrong, she said.
This has made the country lawless. So the government must immediately enforce the law, but without violence. The government’s reluctance to act would only aggravate the situation, she said.
She recalled that when the PAD rally on 7 Oct 2008 was dispersed, she was booed and verbally abused by opponents in Parliament.
Prasan Maruekaphithak, an appointed senator and former president of the Businessmen Network for Democracy, said that the red shirts’ rally had been much too threatening to the people. He believed that the foes of the red shirts would turn out to be the people in Bangkok and the provinces, rather than the government.
He hoped that the incident during the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya last year would not be repeated at the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which will be attended by over 2,000 representatives from over 132 nations.
Another appointed senator and also an ASTV-Manager columnist, Khamnoon Sitthisaman, said that the perception of the protective measures taken at Parliament House by military troops was a matter of opinion. It was considered improper by some people who held the view that the military was the opponent of democracy.
In the past few years, there had been conditions for which the military could have made excuses for a coup, but Army Chief Gen Anuphong Phaojinda had passed up those opportunities; so he was criticized by many as being weak.
He suggested a different perspective that sees that the troops were deployed to protect the parliamentary system and ensure its uninterrupted function. Many people still stuck with the old mentality that the military was dictatorial.
We should have a new paradigm that sees the military as the tool to protect democracy with the King as Head of State from those who want to change it to another type of democracy. So we should not see the military as a threat to the legislature, but on the contrary we should feel that the legislature had the prestige to have the protection of the military, also with prestige.
The clip which Rosana mentioned was, in fact, uploaded in August last year, and has nothing to do with the ‘house dissolution’ sticker which was alleged to be the cause of the skirmish.
The anchor of the ASTV’s ‘News Hour’ programme, Termsak Jarupran, showed the clip on 24 March, and told viewers that the red shirts beat up a couple who refused to accept the stickers at a footbridge across Petchaburi Rd. His female co-host spoke of the red shirts as ‘a pack of phrai dogs’
NBT host Thankhun Jitissara also showed the clip in his programme and made similar remarks.
Rosana, a veteran social activist, is well-known for her crusades against political corruption which sent a former Minister of Public Health to jail. In 2006, she and her fellow consumer rights activists were successful in asking the Administrative Court to reverse Thaksin’s privatization of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.
She was elected senator for Bangkok in 2008. Dubbed as the group 40 senators, on 26 Aug 2008 she and others went to give moral support to the PAD who had seized Government House, and later to PAD members who were arrested for a failed attempt to seize the NBT station. On 2 Sept 2008, this group of senators released a statement, calling on Samak Sundaravej to resign as Prime Minister or dissolve the House.